The blooming of the Kyoto cherry blossoms is already a week earlier than average and 11 days earlier than if the climate crisis had not been exacerbated by human-induced climate change. This culturally significant event is already a symptom of the climate crisis. But how does climate change affect cherry blossoms?
Kyoto cherry blossoms reached full bloom a week earlier than all previous averages.
According to a study in the journal Environment Research Letters, the peak date of cherry blossoms in Kyoto has shifted a week earlier. The change is primarily due to climate change, with temperatures in the city center rising by several degrees since pre-industrial times. Climate change also aggravates the heat island effect, making cities more likely to experience warmer temperatures than their surroundings.
The early flowering dates of cherry blossoms in Kyoto are attributed to climate change, as the city has been warming up much more quickly than the rural area. Kyoto’s central part warmed up faster than the rural areas so that now the cherry blossoms bloom 11 days earlier than previous averages. However, the difference between the two areas has leveled off since the middle of the 20th century, indicating that urban warming has been responsible for most of Kyoto’s recent warming.
Rising temperatures are changing nature’s timing.
Rising temperatures have affected the timing of the flowering of cherry blossoms across the world, and scientists believe the early flowering dates of this year are the result of urban warming and climate change.
Extreme droughts have reduced the number of cherry blossoms in some areas. However, extreme heat and drought have destroyed the natural habitats of many species.
They are a culturally significant event in Japan.
The climate crisis is causing Kyoto cherry blossoms to bloom earlier each year. Due to urbanization, buildings absorb heat more quickly than natural landscapes. This phenomenon is known as the “heat island effect” and contributes to rising temperatures. By the end of this century, scientists predict that the cherry blossoms in Kyoto will bloom an average of one week earlier than they do today.
The traditional peak of the cherry blossom season is at the end of March. But in 2021, the ancient capital of Japan has seen the blossoms bloom even earlier than usual. The cherry blossom season began on 11 March, four days earlier than usual in Kyoto.
They are a symptom of the climate crisis.
Scientists say that the early blooming of Kyoto cherry blossoms indicates a more significant crisis: global warming. The cherry blossoms typically peak in the spring months, but temperatures have increased earlier than last year. The cherry blossoms are especially sensitive to weather conditions.
They will reach full bloom an additional week earlier by 2100
By the end of this century, the Kyoto cherry blossoms are projected to begin blooming an additional week earlier than today. Scientists blame global warming and urbanization for the early flowering event. Buildings absorb solar radiation more efficiently than rural landscapes, leading to the “heat island effect” responsible for warming cities. Climate change also affects other areas, such as farming and land management practices. Because plants depend on one another for growth, changing one area can lead to a chain reaction.
The scientists used data from 58 benchmark cherry trees in Japan to estimate the full bloom date in Kyoto. Of these, 40 have already reached the peak bloom this year, and 14 have bloomed at the early record date. Typically, cherry trees bloom for two weeks. But because cherry trees are sensitive to changes in temperature, the timing of their blooming is crucial for climate change studies. Kyoto’s average temperature has increased several degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times.